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Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Shenandoah Mountain Gap is one of the major historic routes between the mountainous west and the fertile and flat Shenandoah Valley to the east. Shenandoah Valley was the Confederate South’s breadbasket. In 1862, Fort Johnson and the Breast Works were built to guard the approach to the Confederate town of Staunton east of the gap in the heart of Shenandoah Valley. The short, easy, but steep half-mile interpretive trail tells the story the of the fort.

Captain Pryor was a Company Commander at the fort. The interpertivie signs along the trail use the reprinted letters between him and his wife Penolope. The signs recount the history and the life and suffering in the camp by Southern soldiers who were defending the rights of the wealthy Confederate aristocracy to own slaves. Additionally, there are excellent mountaintop views to the west toward West Virginia that clearly illustrate the rugged topography of the area. This rugged topography gives this area its predisposition for subsistence farming over plantations and fostered pro-Union sentiment among the locals. This is one of the reasons for the creation of the new state of West Virginia with its loyalty to the Union.

The roadside parking also serves as a trailhead for the 32-mile long Shenandoah Mountain Trail that follows the ridgeline of Shenandoah Mountain. Easy out-and-back strolls along the ridge can be added after the short hike around the Breast Works. To the north, Shenandoah Trail forms the northern boundary of Ramsey's Draft Wilderness. To the south it is a mixed-use hiking and mountain biking trail.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Short hike. Great views. Civil War breast works.

Cons

None.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Features

Vault toilet
Historically significant
Family friendly
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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